Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Uncertainty

God never stops working things out for His glory and our good, no matter if we think "Ok, things are glorious and good enough, right?  Stop now, please."  Maybe we'll move to Lynchburg and I'll be a nuclear engineer?  Maybe we'll stay put in Phoenix among family, friends, and an awesome church that I'm comfortable with?

I've been studying Job in preparation for next Sunday's lesson.  It's an awesome book.  Job, however, is not left alone to what he thinks ought to happen.  Yes, he clings to his integrity (a little too tightly and self-righteously, perhaps), and does not curse God, but he figures:
1) God had given me much
2) God took it away
3) Now I can die, right?

Nope.  Sorry Job, your continued existence is part of God's great demonstration of His power against the Adversary.  Even after Elihu speaks and God comes in His whirlwind, challenging Job, beating on his self-righteousness in Chs.38-39, and Job surrenders:

    Then Job answered the LORD and said:
    “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you?
        I lay my hand on my mouth.
    I have spoken once, and I will not answer;
        twice, but I will proceed no further.”
(Job 40:3-5 ESV)

Yay, humble Job can be restored!  End of story, right? 

    Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
    “Dress for action like a man;
        I will question you, and you make it known to me.
    Will you even put me in the wrong?
        Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?
    Have you an arm like God,
        and can you thunder with a voice like his?
    “Adorn yourself with majesty and dignity;
        clothe yourself with glory and splendor.
    Pour out the overflowings of your anger,
        and look on everyone who is proud and abase him.
    Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low
        and tread down the wicked where they stand.
    Hide them all in the dust together;
        bind their faces in the world below.
    Then will I also acknowledge to you
        that your own right hand can save you.
(Job 40:6-14 ESV)

God does not stop the prosecution.  He goes on, challenging Job to go be God, if you can.  Conquer the powers that be, if you can.  Maybe then you can tell God what He ought to do and when.

Job must take a second fall in this match.

    Then Job answered the LORD and said:
    “I know that you can do all things,
        and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
    ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
    Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
        things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
    ‘Hear, and I will speak;
        I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
    I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
        but now my eye sees you;
    therefore I despise myself,
        and repent in dust and ashes.”
(Job 42:1-6 ESV)

We don't get to tell God what to do with our lives.  We don't get to cry uncle.  We don't get to set ourselves up as our own authorities, and this is because He loves us.  God leaving us alone is ALWAYS a bad thing.  Whom He loves, He chastens.  We may never know why.  The book of Job does NOT answer the problem of evil.  Rather, it prescribes the attitude of the godly in the midst of evil.

I can't help but think of Jonathan Edwards, whose last letter to his daughter Lucy read:

"Dear Lucy, it seems to me to be the will of God, that I must shortly leave you; therefore give my kindest regards to my dear wife, and tell her, that the uncommon union, which has so long subsisted between us, has been of such a nature, as trust is spiritual, and therefore will continue for ever. And I hope she will be supported under so great a trial and submit cheerfully to the will of God. And as to my children, you are now like to be fatherless, which I hope will be an inducement to you all, to seek a Father who will never fail you."

To which news his wife Sarah replied:

"What shall I say? A holy and good God has covered us with a dark cloud. O that we may kiss the rod, and lay our hands upon our mouths! The Lord has done it. He has made me adore his goodness, that we had him so long. But my God lives; and he has my heart. O what a legacy my husband, and your father, has left us! We are all given to God; and there I am, and love to be."

Let us learn to lay our hand on our mouth, be still, and know that He is God and there is no other.

MJM